Ratings: HBO, Showtime Split Audience For Mediocre Digits

By Jake Donovan

Not only does boxing fail to fare well when competing against itself, but struggles when competing with other major sporting events.

Bernard Hopkins has never been a major pay-per-view attraction, but the future Hall of Fame boxing legend has always managed to serve as a huge ratings magnet for HBO and Showtime. That dynamic dramatically changed over the past weekend, with his April 19 historic unification title win over Beibut Shumenov on Showtime averaging just 760,000 viewers over the course of their 12-round main event, according to data obtained from Nielsen Media Research.

The live televised tripleheader averaged 693,000 viewers over the course the evening, with the show competing against the NBA Playoffs on basic cable and also the exclusive replay of Manny Pacquiao’s rematch win over Tim Bradley, which aired on HBO.

At age 49, Hopkins made history (again) by becoming the oldest fighter ever to successfully unify titles in a weight class in a dominating showing against Shumenov, a fighter 18 years his junior. The event gained greater relevance last month when it was learned that Adonis Stevenson – who earlier in the year signed with Al Haymon – pledged his allegiance to Showtime and expressed an interest in fighting the winner.

However, viewer turnout suggests – in addition to there being too much from which to choose on the evening – there is greater interest in a head-on collision with Stevenson, than to tune in to the buildup to such a fight. Hopkins’ bout was overshadowed in the ratings by the evening’s co-feature, with Shawn Porter’s 4th round knockout of Paul Malignaggi averaging 897,000 viewers.

The opening bout of the evening saw Peter Quillin score a methodical 12-round decision over Lucas Konecny. The bout averaged 622,000 viewers.

Overall, the average total for the live broadcast barely edged the Pacquiao-Bradley rematch replay on HBO, which drew a rating of 689,000 viewers. The replay for their controversial first fight in June 2012 was nearly double that at 1.3 million, though also serving as a lead-in to a live broadcast, with Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. – then an undefeated middleweight titlist and a huge draw on his own – scoring a stoppage win over Andy Lee.

Pacquiao’s win over Bradley – which came April 12 and aired live on HBO PPV – featured far less controversy. Pacquiao scored a clean decision, one well reflected on the judges’ scorecards. Saturday’s exclusive replay was not accompanied by a live boxing event. Instead it served as the lead-in to the most recent edition of HBO’s The Fight Game with Jim Lampley.

Hopkins’ latest appearance on Showtime saw a decrease of nearly 25% in viewership from last October’s win over Karo Murat, which pulled in roughly 1 million viewers.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of, as well as the Records Keeper for the Transnational Boxing Ratings Board and a member of Boxing Writers Association of America.
Twitter: @JakeNDaBox

User Comments and Feedback (Register For Free To Comment) Comment by PunchyPotorff on 04-22-2014

In my biz I made alotta mistakes on the way up. Difference though is, I learned. And my company is very small. So then we have TR and GB not willing to work together, right alongside HBO and Showtime not…

Comment by Dr Rumack on 04-22-2014

The strategies employed by the two companies is pretty interesting at the moment. Essentially all Showtime have been doing is outspending HBO, whereas HBO have been largely passive and at this point look like they're waiting for Showtime to punch…

Comment by radioraheem on 04-22-2014

[QUOTE=DoktorSleepless;14457005]Amazon has never turned a profit [url][/url][/QUOTE] That's crazy. I knew they were in the red long ago. But didn't know that tradition of zero bucks carried on even til now.

Comment by Ray Corso on 04-22-2014

If you pay for Showtime you got the fight it wasn't a PPV. The Pac vs Tim bout was a PPV on HBO. The Pac vs Tim was miles above the Showtime show, the fights were horrible and once again…

Comment by 285Kid on 04-22-2014

HBO + Showtime = 1.4 rating again when was the last time boxing hit a 2.0 on a saturday night?

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